Huge fun: oversized DIY Yahtzee for your garden
Forget about hosting games nights around a tiny table and turn your outdoor area into a playground. With these giant Yahtzee dice, you’ll enjoy hours of fun and games on your lawn.
Darn, missed the Full House again. One attempt left. And you fail again. You get angry, your face turns red – you’re about to join the loser’s club. And it’s everyone else’s fault! You bawl out, diss your fellow players. And in no time, you’re attracting public attention.
Whenever I play Yahtzee with my friends, we either end up bad losers or undeserved winners. And yet, we love the game. You can easily take it anywhere, switch off, try your luck and enjoy a cool beer while you’re playing. For a few minutes, the dice and your desire to win are all that counts.
Five dice, a cup, a notepad, a pencil and a table – that's all you need for this exciting game. Could it get any better? Sure thing! Forget about the table, scale up the dice and turn your garden into a huge game board. Bigger is better!
Kids are also sure to love this oversized version of Yahtzee. Instead of being glued to the table, it allows them to run around on the lawn. How about building the game together with your little ones? It’s so easy to make that it’s ideal to introduce your kids to the wonderful world of DIY. They’re sure to love giving you a hand and with a bit of luck, they’ll follow my path: I used to hate it as a kid and make a living from it today.
As I mentioned, Yahtzee is a dice game. The aim of the game is to score as many points as possible by rolling six dice to make certain combinations. It’s a bit like playing poker with dice. After each go, you write down your combination and score on a special scorecard and if luck is on your side, you’ve reached the highest score after 13 rounds. Kids, grandchildren, nephews, nieces – anyone aged 8+ can join this jolly game. I’ll get back to the details and rules later. Now, let’s take a look at the DIY part.
Dice are known to be square, so they're not too difficult to build. Your shopping list is manageable, too.
For the dice:
For the scorecard:
For the dice cup:
- 1 large bucket, basket or flower pot
It’s quite obvious that making the dice is the biggest job, so that’s where we’ll begin. First off, we need to turn the square timber into six identical dice. That’s quite tricky with a piece of wood of 2.5 m length. I finally get it under the miter saw and cut a large piece off. I don’t want to be manoeuvring the entire piece of timber. Now I can cut the dice to the right length. I go for 80 mm, as I want all sides to be identical. Repeat this six times in total and you've completed the first step.
Chip, chop, that’s 80 cm off.
I’ve gone for natural spruce, so it takes me quite a while to sand down the pieces. I work with a delta sander, but a belt sander or multi-sander would also do the job. Once you've smoothed down the surfaces, you need to round the corners and edges to make sure the dice roll smoothly. My pieces of wood are uneven, have small splinters and traces of resin all over them. I'm rather fussy and known to get carried away, so things take a little longer than they have to. Finally, I'm pleased with my dice and turn to the woodburning pen.
Sanding takes quite some patience.
Burn, baby, burn
I’ve never used a woodburning pen and the instructions are moderately helpful. So I resort to good old learning by doing. I plug the tool in and give it a go on a piece of scrap wood. My dots are nowhere near round, but I already enjoy working with this tool. I revel in the smoke and the smell of burnt wood – until I return to my actual task and realise I’m not getting anywhere. I need a new plan; freehand drawing isn’t working for me. So I decide to drill holes, as this will help me to draw clean circles. A regular wood drilling or forstner bit will do.
I recommend drawing the dots by pencil first to make sure they’re symmetrical. You don’t want your dice to end up looking awkward and cross-eyed. I must confess that I needed a small die as a model. Shame on me; I didn’t know how the dots on dice are arranged. Once you’ve drawn one to six dots on each side of your giant dice with a pencil, you’re ready for a test run with the woodburning pen. I drill a hole into the surface and colour it in. I went for 18 mm, which seems a bit too large, but my method works!
Testing the woodburning pen on a scrap piece
A dot with a diameter of 14 mm would be ideal, but sure enough, I don’t have the right drill bit. I only have a 10 mm or an 18 mm one. The smaller one would do the job, but make the dots look a bit scattered and lost. I’m not one to give up easily and have a good look around my dad’s workshop. With success – I find an old drill press with a sanding drum. This tool is perfect; it drills holes and burns them black at the same time. Good things come to those who wait.
Saved my day: my dad’s old drill press.
If you have a suitable drill bit, you can skip this last step. If you find drilling and woodburning too hard work, there’s an easier way: Just draw the dots onto your dice with a permanent marker. In retrospect, I should have chosen this method. It would have saved me from spending a lot of time in the workshop. But I was going for that natural look… Oh well. Whichever method you choose, make sure to weather-seal your dice with varnish or liquid hard ground at the very end. After this, they’re ready to roll around on your lawn.
What’s left to do? Not a lot: Buy a bucket (or dig one out of your cellar) and copy a genuine Yahtzee scorecard onto your A4 notepad (or find one online and print it out). That’s it. Get your friends or kids together, go outside, enjoy the sun and rock 'n’roll those dice.
My own oversized DIY Yahtzee dice waiting for their big moment.
- Cut a piece of square timber into six identical cubes.
- Sand down the edges and surfaces, ideally with a sanding machine. Round the edges to make sure your dice roll smoothly.
- Drill the dots into your dice with a wood drilling or forstner bit.
- Colour in the dots with a woodburning pen. Alternatively, draw them on with a permanent marker – this doesn’t necessarily require drilling holes.
- Treat your dice with varnish or liquid hard ground and let them dry. You’re ready to go.
- All players write their name onto the scorecard.
- You take turns. Every player’s allowed to roll the dice up to three times. After every roll, the player saves any dice they want and re-rolls the others. You have complete choice as to which dice to save and which to roll.
- After the third roll, the player must choose which category of the scorecard to enter the score into or which one to cross out. If you cross one out, your score for this category is zero.
- The total score is calculated by summing all categories. The winner is the player with the highest total score.
Woodburning pen set 30 W BM 245
Nitro hard ground silacel (0.38l)
Notepad Office, 4mm, perforated (A4, Checked)
Writing pad, A4, 70 g/m2, chequered 4 mm, bright white, 100 sheets
Permanent Marker 800
3 Yahtzee scorecards (German)
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